Saturday, December 29, 2007
Ever since we received a Wii last year, we've been playing Wii sports. I have become pretty good at Wii bowling, but this week we finally went to a real bowling alley to check out our skills with real balls and pins. It was a let-down. I started my second game well with a couple strikes in the first two frames, but I never topped 100 points in either of my games, and on the Wii I hardly ever score under 200.
Oh well, at least it was fun, until some guy sitting behind us and waiting to use our lanes started smoking a very stinky cigarette. Yuck.
You can see from these images that our form isn't very good. There was some excitement when Jason bowled three strikes in a row, but that was about as good as it got.
Bowling reminds me of Robert Putnam and his concern that Americans aren't spending enough time socializing or doing group activities. I hope in the new year 2008 we can do more more family activities and have more fun with our friends.
We had a few days in late December where the weather was warm, up around 14 to 18 degrees Celsius, so we went out for some walks. The woods are pretty bare this time of year, although the buds are nice to observe. In St. Louis there are more hills than in central Illinois, which makes a stroll more interesting.
We took a hike at the Laumeier Sculpture Park on the south side of St. Louis County. I remember that Jeri and I went for a walk there within a few weeks of our wedding in 1992, so it was probably one of the first places she went for a walk in the woods in America. It had been several years since we last came here, and many of the sculptures were gone.
We stopped at a toy store on the way to the park, and Arthur and I played catch with an orange ball as we interacted with the installations and sculptures.
This year has not been a good one for our family. I think a highlight was our long visit with relatives in Taiwan. I attended another social work research conference (in San Francisco, in January) and an inspiring conference on social development (in Hong Kong, in July). I turned 40 years-old last week, and that feels good, especially since my dad gave me a call from Florida. Arthur and Sebastian continued to grow and develop. Sadly, my last grandparent died in February. Our third son died before even being born when Jeri miscarried in the 12th week of her pregnancy.
The year is coming to an end as I evaluate essays in a "this I believe" essay contest for Sangamon County and prepare my syllabus for a social work class on social welfare. I'm getting breaks to play with my family here in St. Louis.
In this final week we are spending time with family here in Saint Louis. I'm having a good time.
Christmas morning is an exciting time, especially for children. There are so many presents, and the presents are so fun to open. the gifts include good books, toys, games, food, clothing, and tools or gadgets.
I think the images here give a pretty good impression of the mood on Christmas morning.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday the 24th was a fine day. We took a long walk in my parents' neighborhood, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. We went to an afternoon church service at Salem United Methodist Church, my parents' church, and the place where they were married. We had delicious turkey for dinner, as you can see in the photograph of my plate before I began eating. The three cousins (our Sebastian and Arthur as well as Jennell and Jason's little Dante) sat together wearing matching sweaters, as you can see. Some of the family decorated cookies. After dinner each child opened one present. You can see a photograph of Arthur looking at his present just after opening it.
Just as we do at Thanksgiving, our family drove down to St. Louis for Christmas, arriving on Friday evening the 21st. When we arrived there was a halo around the moon, which we took as a good omen.
Nick, my nephew was in town, and we spent some time with him on Saturday and Sunday. He is 15 years old now. He's three years older than Sebastian, almost seven years older than Arthur, and about ten-and-a-half years older than Dante. You can see the four of them lined up in two of the photographs I've uploaded here.
It was good to see Nick again. We last met him in New Jersey in the summer of 2006, just before my brother David moved his family back to California. I always remember Nick when he was only about two months old, and he came to our wedding. As I recall, we stood right in the area where the boys are standing in the pictures here. Nick was the smallest guest.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Springfield has had several ice storms over the past few years. We had two bad ones last year, and already we had a significant one this past weekend. Here are some images I took at Camp Cilca on the morning of Sunday the 9th.
All night and morning while we were at Camp Cilca the sounds of crashing limbs and branches filled the forest. These are truly awesome sounds. We saw several large limbs crash down just a few dozen meters from where we were standing, and even limbs crashing to the forest floor in the distance made a loud sound like thunder.
No one lingered under trees!
The cabins at Camp Cilca are all right. We like to have big fires to keep warm during the December nights.
On this post you can see Sebastian, Mr. Green, and ASPL Andy.
The dark image I took by resting my camera on the rails of a bunk, using a timed exposure (so my hand wouldn't touch the camera and shake it while the shutter was open), and forcing the camera to use no flash (and use a one second exposure instead). You can see my bunk in the center of that image. I was warm this year, as we had a balmy night with temperatures right at the freezing mark.
Sebastian and I went out to Camp Cilca with Troop 3 again, as we have done these past few years.
Two years ago the night temperature was in the single digits (about 18 degrees below freezing in Celsius), and last year the temperature went into the upper teens (about 11 degrees degrees below zero in Celsius). The cabins at Cilca have no insulation, and there are many cracks and gaps between the boards that make up the walls. There are also no bathrooms aside from the chemical toilets about 60 meters away from the cabins. So, those past couple years were too cold. On the other hand, both previous years there was deep snow to make sledding quite enjoyable.
This year, for the third straight year, we had snow again, and sledding was possible. The snow was more like a thin glaze of ice and snow, and we had freezing rain and an ice storm with only a few hours of dry weather in which to enjoy a game of capture the flag.
Here are some pictures of Jim, Jared, Sebastian, and Kody.
All four of our family drove down to St. Louis for a traditional Thanksgiving visit with my parents. My mom prepared a wonderful dinner.
The image of the horizon with the white farm building (taken from our car as we drove south to St. Louis) is very typical of the scenery we have here in central Illinois.
I thought we had fairly good color in the leaves this autumn. We had no hard frosts or freezes until November, although we had one mild frost in October. There were many warm days.
Here you can see a couple views from our front porch down Park Avenue, looking north. There are also some photos of the red maples at my university, the University of Illinois at Springfield.